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Bring on the hybrids

By Frank O'Brien

Over the past few years, General Motors Canada and arch-rival DaimlerChrysler Canada have been revving up the competition in the full-size pickup market with ever increasing power. Chrysler's launch of its hemi-head and Magnum V-8 and V-10 versions that smoked nearly everything else on the road won that race, most would say.
But now the two giants have combined forces to develop fuel-efficient hybrid models to meet competition from Toyota and Ford.
GM, the world's largest automaker, and its German-U.S. rival have signed a memorandum of understanding on the development of the hybrid technology, which creates trucks that are super energy efficient without any lack of power.
"Our planned cooperation will draw on the technical expertise of two of the largest auto companies in the world," DaimlerChrysler board member Thomas Weber said. "The result will be a series of strong hybrid propulsion systems."
So what have they come up with? The 2005 models are evidence that GM and Chrysler have notched up the hybrid truck technology with machines that are not only fuel-efficient but are actually rolling power generators.

This year DaimlerChrysler began production of the Dodge Ram Diesel HEV. The Ram HEV has start-stop capability, which shuts the engine off at full stop and restarts when the accelerator is pressed. A regenerative braking system helps recharge the batteries. The savings on fuel is up to 15 per cent over comparable engines.
It is built on the Ram Heavy Duty (2500/ 3500) chassis and is equipped with diesel/electric hybrid propulsion. Diesel works well as a hybrid because there is fuel economy savings with a diesel, compared to a similar gasoline engine. And, in the case of its 325hp/600 lb-ft Cummins Turbo Diesel, there isn't a comparable gasoline or diesel engine on the market.
But the Ram HEV offers another benefit. The truck can operate as an electric generator, providing 110/220-volt AC power, which would be useful on construction job sites or during emergency power outages. In fact, the truck can provide enough electricity to power four average houses. DaimlerChrysler also has plans to market other hybrids, including the new hybrid Sprinter van later this year.

General Motors
General Motors began delivery of its first full-size hybrid pickup this year, on the Chevrolet Silverado and the Sierra platforms
The hybrid pickups feature GM's powerful 5300 Vortec V-8 and Hydra-Matic 4L60-E four-speed automatic transmission, coupled with a new hybrid technology. It delivers 10 to 12 per cent improved fuel economy over GM half-ton pickups.
The GM hybrids feature four 120-volt, 20- amp electrical auxiliary power outlets under the rear seat of the cab and in the pickup bed that can accommodate up to four accessories while driving or when parked. With this auxiliary generator, the truck's generator can operate when the truck is parked without a key in the ignition and can be used, for example, to power tools at a construction site for up to 32 hours non-stop.
All power supply circuits are protected by a ground fault detection system to prevent overloads and short circuits.
The GM hybrid pickups are efficient because of the engine start/stop function and regenerative braking, which turns the motor into a generator as the truck decelerates. Extra fuel savings come from quickly shutting off fuel any time the truck is coasting or braking, and using the electric motor to smooth out any resulting vibrations.
Instead of a conventional starter motor and alternator, the hybrid truck features a compact electric motor that is integrated in a space-efficient way between the engine and transmission. The electric motor provides fast, quiet starting power and the ability to generate up to 14,000 watts of continuous electric power.
At a stop light, the gasoline engine stops running, but the accessories continue working on stored electrical power. When the driver releases the brake, the gasoline engine kicks in again seamlessly
Fuel savings and raw power: looks like the biggest truck makers are creating a winning combination
. HB

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